Have the Obama Administration and Iran developed closer secret diplomatic ties over the past months? A report by the Wall Street Journal indicates they have.
US and Arab officials are quoted by the WSJ as saying that Washington and Iran have been conducting secret discussions regarding mutual regional interests, and chiefly the fight against their common enemy, the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) terror group.
American officials told the WSJ that the Obama administration has passed messages to Tehran by using the offices of Iraq’s new Shiite prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, as well as Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, one of Shi’ite Islam’s most senior clerics.
The WSJ warns that this shift could drastically alter the balance of power in the region, alienating key US allies such as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, who are central to the coalition fighting IS.
Sunni Arab leaders view the threat posed by Shiite Iran as equal to, or even greater than, that posed by the Sunni Islamic State.
Concern in Jerusalem
Such a shift is also raising the level of anxiety in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly warned the West against making a deal with Iran that would allow the Islamic Republic to continue its nuclear agenda.
The WSJ further stipulates that the Obama administration also has markedly softened its stance toward “Iran’s most important non-state allies,” namely, Hamas and Hezbollah.
Obama Administration officials claim they are not directly coordinating their regional policies or the war against Islamic State with Iran, the WSJ reports. They also say that pervasive U.S. economic sanctions remain in place on Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.
However, the WSJ lists several incidents and spheres of actions in which a change in U.S. policy seems evident. The WSJ also believes that these actions are being reciprocated by Tehran, which has reduced activities against U.S. forces.
Destabilizing the Middle East
White House critics believe the U.S. cannot proceed with this course of action. “The Iranian regime is revolutionary and can’t get too close to us. So I’d be wary of any rapprochement,” Scott Modell, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told the WSJ. “I think they are hell bent on pursuing a number of courses that run counter to U.S. interests.”
The publication also quotes officials who say that de-emphasizing deterrence against Iran could be destabilizing, signaling to the Revolutionary Guard that America will not take steps to counter Iranian measures in the Middle East and in the international arena.
This report is very disconcerting. How should Washington be dealing with Iran now that they have a common enemy?
Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel
For the full WSJ report, click HERE.